“Mr. Snyder writes lyrically, and his research appears to be impeccable: It’s hard to imagine that anyone has slipped through his interview net…When Bundini died—in September 1987, at age 59—Ali was abroad and unable to attend the funeral, but he sent flowers with a card that read: ‘You made me the greatest.’ Many members of the boxing fraternity, George Foreman and Larry Holmes included, think that Ali wasn’t exaggerating. Mr. Snyder’s affecting portrait will convince the rest of us as well.”—Gordon Marino, Wall Street Journal
“[Bundini] has now been rescued from the margins of history by an excellent, new book. In Bundini: Don’t Believe the Hype, Dr. Todd Snyder revisits Brown’s role, putting flesh on the bones of his legend, offering a warts and all, three-dimensional portrait of the man behind so much of the doggerel central to the Ali mythology…Fascinating, entertaining.”—The Irish Times
“An excellent account of the life of Drew ‘Bundini’ Brown (1928–1987), who, within the fabled Muhammad Ali entourage, was the champ’s master motivator and cornerman...An effective tribute to Ali’s controversial confidant, who sacrificed himself in service of the sport.” —Publishers Weekly
“Vivifies the cultural icon who was instrumental to Ali’s success…Authoritative and entertaining, Bundini comes through for boxing fans and for those interested in Black American culture.” —Foreword Reviews
“[An] overdue…treatment of a complex figure in the boxing world.”—Kirkus Reviews
Fifty years after he coined the iconic phrase Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, Drew “Bundini” Brown remains one of boxing’s most mysterious and misunderstood figures. His impact on the sport and the culture at large is undeniable. Cornerman and confidant to two of the greatest fighters ever—Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali—Brown lived an extraordinary American life.
After a poverty-stricken childhood in Jim Crow Florida, Brown came of age traveling the world as a naval steward. On being discharged, he settled in New York City and spent wild nights in the jazz joints of Harlem, making a name for himself as the charismatic street philosopher and poet some called “Fast Black.” He married a white woman from a family of Orthodox Jewish immigrants, in dramatic defiance of 1950s cultural norms, and later appeared in films such as the blaxploitation classic, Shaft.
In Bundini, Todd Snyder digs deep into Brown’s expansive story, revealing not only how he became Muhammad Ali’s “hype man,” but also, as boxing’s greatest motivator, how he became a model for others who seek to inspire, in any endeavor.